PortCities London

The Goan community of London

A maritime culture

Vasco da Gama
View full size image Vasco Da Gama. © NMM

Seafaring tradition

Goa is a tiny state within the Indian Union, consisting of three comunities on the western coast of India (Goa, Daman and Diu). So it is hardly surprising that the Konkani speakers of Goa were seafarers.

The inhabitants of Goa seem to have had trading connections with the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.

They were certainly trading with East Africa by the 10th century, and were using Polynesian outriggers by the 12th century.

Portuguese expansion

In the early 15th century the Goans were voyaging to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. By the end of the same century the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama (c.1469-1524) led the European discovery of a sea route around Africa to India. That gave access to spices, silk, precious stones and china.

Goa fortissima Indiae urbs in Christianorum potestatem anno Salutis 1509 deuenit

View full size image Goa fortissima Indiae urbs in Christianorum potestatem anno Salutis 1509 deuenit.

Afonso De Albuquerque (1453-1515) captured the city of Goa in 1510 from the Moslems and started 450 years of Portuguese rule.

Capital of an Empire

Goa became the capital of Portugal's Eastern Empire, extending from Japan to Mozambique and developed a unique Indo-Portuguese culture.

Many Portuguese seamen died in the tropics and so the Goans became part of the Portuguese seafaring tradition. They sailed on Portuguese ships throughout the Indian Ocean to the Far East, Africa, Brazil and Europe.


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